voice for the
According to PETA, every year more than 100 million animals are tortured and killed in
US laboratories for biology lessons, medical training, and experimentation; or for drug,
food, and cosmetic testing. We spoke to Shanti Ahluwalia, a Campaign Officer for SAFE,
New Zealand’s leading animal advocacy organization, who shared his perspective on the
current status of animal cruelty.
– Shanti Ahluwalia
Campaign Officer for SAFE
Cruelty of Animal
18 december Issue 12
Chickens for meat production are bred
to grow very quickly, and suffer a wide-
range of health problems as a result.
The use of small animals for experimental purposes has
been met with mass protesting and vigilant campaigning,
most of which occurred as a response to increased
awareness around the issue, thanks to the likes of PETA
(People for the Ethical treatment of Animals), SAFE (Save
Animals From Exploitation), and the Humane Society.
As more companies emerged throughout the mid-to-
late 19th century, the number of animals used in tests
increased, along with the number of tests themselves. This
rapid increase in animal testing led to the development of
numerous agencies aimed at halting animal testing, while
also sharing their sentiment with the greater public. Abuse
of animals during testing was well publicized throughout
the 1990’s, creating a movement, and garnered public
anger in response to the practice. The increased attention
led to the ban on animal testing for cosmetics in the UK
In late May, following heavy campaigning by SAFE and
the Green Party, New Zealand became one of the first
countries to amend the Animal Welfare Act to make it
illegal for companies to test finished products or their
ingredients on animals in the country.
In addition to New Zealand, already a number of countries have
taken progressive steps to stop the unnecessary suffering of
animals used in tests for personal care and household products,
including: India, Brazil’s Sao Paulo region, Israel, Norway, and
the European Union; with Australia, Canada and Taiwan in
“The reaction has been tremendously positive,” Shanti told
us. “On social media, we had the largest swell of support we
have ever had. In the media, many outlets reported the victory.
However, the ban only applies to testing done in New Zealand.
The government must follow the European Union’s example and
ban the importation of products tested on animals too.”
New Zealand already has a reasonably clean reputation around
the world for its treatment of animals, and this new law further
contributes to the positive image. While no known testing
is currently taking place in New Zealand, the new measure
ensures that it never will. A recent poll found that 89 percent
of New Zealanders were against animal testing in cosmetics,
because of the cruelty that has been exposed by the likes of
PETA and SAFE.
december Issue 12
“In the Draize test, rabbits can be restrained and have
chemicals poured into their eyes, mouth, or face,” says Shanti.
“This can cause severe pain and distress. Animal testing
includes the worst cruelty imaginable, and there is absolutely
no reason to do it for cosmetics. Many companies don’t test on
animals, so products will still be available.”
The abuse of animals for experimental purposes has driven
the emergence of many high-profile individuals to publicly
condemn the practice. PETA has an enormous amount of
support from the celebrity community, with concrete support
from the likes of Khloe Kardashian, Alec Baldwin, Charlize
Theron, Joaquin Phoenix, Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson,
and Kesha (just to name a few).
In a recent video for Humane Society USA’s #BeCrueltyFree
campaign, Kesha sends a clear message to her fans about
animal testing for cosmetic products, by getting ready for a
night out using makeup products that are strictly free from
animal testing. At the end of the video, she leaves a message
on her mirror written in lipstick to #BeCrueltyFree.
Pamela Anderson also recently spoke out about the issue,
writing a strongly worded letter to MAC Cosmetics, expressing
her outrage that the company does in fact test products
on animals in countries that legally require it for imported
cosmetics, when for so long, MAC has prided itself on
providing cruelty-free products.
“We’ve known each other for a long time, and I’ve always
admired you for embracing MAC Cosmetics as a pioneer in
cruelty-free makeup,” Anderson wrote in the letter. “That’s
why I was so proud to be a Viva Glam MAC girl in 2004. But
the buzz is much different now, and you know I can’t bite my
tongue.” Anderson urged the company to stop selling to China
(where animal testing is required), noting that she still had
“faith” in the brand.
Further to big-brand shaming, PETA has now stricken lingerie
giant Victoria’s Secret from its list of cruelty-free companies, as
the company recently confirmed its deal to sell beauty products
in mainland, China. Although the Chinese Government has in
recent years, relaxed its animal-testing mandate for certain
types of cosmetics that are produced and sold in the country,
the new rules don’t cover imported or specialty products.
American-based companies have been eager to capitalize on
China’s $15 billion cosmetics market, but in doing so, many
companies, most notably Avon, Mary Kay, and Estee Lauder,
reverse decades of “no animal testing” policies. They must
now face the consequence of losing a strong customer base
who appreciate the cruelty-free aspect.
“Although the company fully understands the Chinese
Government’s requirements for tests on animals for cosmetics,
it has chosen to enter this market anyway,” PETA wrote on
their website about Victoria’s Secret. PETA commended the
label’s fellow Limited Brands subsidiaries, including Bath &
Body Works, for not expanding into China and “remaining
committed to their cruelty-free policies.”
But cruelty to animals doesn’t just stop at cosmetic testing.
PETA recently released an exposé of luxury French handbag
label Hermès, revealing evidence of reptiles put through
unimaginable suffering at a leather farm in Texas. The animals
are allegedly forced to live in dirty, dark pits, before they are
dragged out by workers and placed on a table, struggling
desperately to escape, before being brutally slaughtered.
The Fur Trade is another issue, one that Shanti feels particularly
passionate about. He feels that there is no kind way of ripping
an animal’s skin off its back. He also strongly opposes factory
farming, a practice that has no place in the modern world.
“Pigs and chickens get the worst of it,” says Shanti. “Sows
are kept in crates, unable to turn around for weeks at a time.
Their piglets are taken away from them and kept in fattening
pens, with very little space. Chickens for egg production are
kept in cages, with about as much space as an A4 sheet of
paper per hen. Chickens for meat production are bred to grow
very quickly, and suffer a wide-range of health problems as a
For now, SAFE’s largest endeavor is the Stop Factory Farming
campaign. Shanti says that they have so far been successful in
banning sow stalls in New Zealand, and conventional battery
hen cages will also be phased out. They are also campaigning
against duck shooting, and many other issues that involve
animal cruelty. Without the likes of PETA and SAFE, our world
would be a cruel and unsustainable place.